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Most people spend their working lives following orders, whether they’re from a boss or a customer. They may not be military commands — your customer may ask you in the nicest way possible to reduce delivery time — but they still must be obeyed. This is just the way things are, whether you’re a junior executive or higher-level manager. So here’s the leap of faith: Consider the possibility that you can have an equal relationship with a “superior.” I don’t care if that superior is the CEO of a Fortune 50 company. You don’t have to be an inferior in…
Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein If you take a tour of Life Fitness with Chris Clawson, you may find yourself answering questions that you wouldn’t expect to be asked on a tour of a company that makes exercise equipment. For instance, he’ll probably want to know if you have a favorite wine or if you’ve ever visited a winery. “I say, ‘How many of you think the wine tasted the same after you visited the winery?’” says Clawson, president at Life Fitness. “And they all shake their heads no because it tastes different. You get to meet the vintner, go…
Business operations are subject to a number of internal and external risks, as are ownership interests in businesses. How organizations and their owners address these risks can have a significant impact on the value of businesses and interests therein. An enterprise risk management (ERM) process involves identifying risks relative to an organization’s objectives, assessing them for likelihood and impact, developing a response strategy and monitoring progress. A well-defined ERM process framework can protect and create value for organizations and their owners. Smart Business spoke with John T. Alfonsi, managing director at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about how ERM precesses can…
With margin pressures, cost reductions and ongoing economic uncertainty on most corporate agendas, a company’s supply chain has become a key driver of growth. The relationship between the supply chain and senior finance leaders is more important than ever as C-suite executives work to build a cost-effective operating model. Yet, in “Partnering for Performance: CFO and the Supply Chain,” a recent EY survey that looks at the impact on the business when the CFO and chief supply chain officers collaborate, only one-quarter of finance executives describe their relationship with their supply chain counterparts as a true business partnership. Worse, only…
Do these terms sound familiar? ■ Vision ■ Strategy ■ Quality ■ Mission ■ Commitment Come on, you can admit it. Aren’t there times when corporate-speak makes you nauseous? Don’t get me wrong; I live in the corporate world. It’s from there where my bread is buttered and bills are paid. Yet, those running the big businesses often forget what the keys for optimizing success are, thus garnering less than stellar results. The construction of a high-performance team needs to be centered on the how. Having worked intensely with executive teams in the last five years, we take an unconventional…
Count on Bob Lacy to be one of those business leaders who won’t be trying to calculate the hours his employees spend away from their work as they track their brackets or sneak a peek at the March Madness action on their computer, smartphone or tablet. “It’s fun to do and it’s a good thing for the culture,” Lacy says, referring to activities such as bracket wagers, Super Bowl squares and fantasy sports. “It’s just another form of camaraderie. Nobody is forced to participate. Much like our run club or the company employee lunch we do every month or our…
John Kalanik, Jim Chappell and Tony Maurer brought a lot of engineering experience to the table when they launched InStep Software in the mid-1990s. In those early days, the company’s co-founders focused on solving engineering problems with software solutions. “The Internet was really starting to take off,” says Kalanik, the company’s president. “We knew there was an underserved market for the development of engineering software. Initially, we focused on consulting projects for companies in the telecommunications, power and utility industries; many of these projects resulted in the development of a specific commercial software application. “This provided us with the experience…
Mark Silverman has fond memories of Sept. 1, 2007, the day Big Ten Network went live to TV viewers for the first time. “We had been working nonstop to get the network ready,” Silverman says. “I started in December (2006), and most people didn’t come on board until April and May 2007. Flipping the switch, going live on air and watching Dave Revsine, our host, do his open for BTN, it was definitely the most memorable moment I have in our history.” It was an instance of great accomplishment. But the work of turning BTN into the successful business venture…
Thursday, 27 February 2014 14:39

How to transition your small business to an ESOP

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Having a sound exit strategy in place with respect to departing shareholders is imperative for any company. This is especially true for small businesses in which the departing shareholder is a key cog in the company’s management and day-to-day operations. A departing shareholder also faces the issue of finding a market to be adequately compensated for his shares. “Companies and individuals are faced with the daunting task of finding a market for the shares being sold, the fear of a targeted acquisition in which the purchaser would drastically alter the landscape of the company, and the various costs and time…
The Institute of Medicine estimated 30 percent of health care spending in 2009 was wasted. Patients get duplicate services, unneeded services or services that haven’t proven to have medical value, which is where medical management can help. Utilization management enables health plan members and network providers to contact a benefits manager to determine whether services are medically necessary before they are rendered, says Dr. Robert Sorrenti, medical director at HealthLink. Years ago, physicians, hospitals and providers strongly opposed utilization management, feeling it intruded upon their ability to make decisions. Today, there is acceptance, along with strong interest from those paying…
Three tips to help you get better at securing warm leads to grow business “Before I got married, I had six theories on raising children. Now I have six children and no theories.” — John Wilmot We all long for that road map to guide us to a higher level of success in all that we do in life, whether it is in parenting, fitness, buying a car or a house, or saving for your children’s college education. Yet, I’ve discovered a surprising level of irony in the way many organizations and their sales divisions go about securing business. Sure,…
The goal of any incident response is to minimize the impact of a negative event on an organization’s objectives. This involves responding to an incident as quickly and efficiently as possible, making good decisions to limit further damage and repair any damage that has been done. In order to accomplish this, an organization should have a corporate response plan (CRP) in place that is ready to go at a moment’s notice. A CRP typically includes an oversight committee that will design the CRP and oversee the work of the corporate response teams. Smart Business spoke with James Martin, managing director…
Emergency room overutilization is a prevailing problem for most employers. For example, looking at HealthLink’s book of business, almost invariably more than 65 percent of ER visits are for non-emergency reasons. They fall into the categories of disease and virus or symptom, such as headaches, gastroenteritis, sinusitis and influenza. “The cost of an average ER visit ranges from $1,300 to $1,500, but the average urgent care or client visit ranges anywhere from $120 to $500,” says Mark Haegele, director of sales and account management at HealthLink.“If you move any of those visits from the ER to other care settings, you’re…
Jay Dettling needs newly hired employees at Acquity Group to hit the ground running and quickly become productive members of his team. The digital marketing company focuses on helping customers engage their clients and has grown between 30 and 40 percent annually for more than a decade. The bar has been set high and Dettling will continue to push it higher as the company grows beyond 700 employees. But that doesn’t mean he is naive to the fact that hiring is an inexact science or that other companies out there are pursuing the same top talent that he wants to…
Strategic succession is essential in every work group within an organization, not just CEOs. It touches all aspects of the business: family ownership responsibilities, boards, executive teams, management teams, work groups and even new employee on-boarding. Here are six key areas that make up a complete and successful succession at any level. The transfer of knowledge, skills and abilities The first step in succession is to systematically move competency to the next generation of owners, leaders, managers and workers. This is done through targeted education, new work experiences, exposure to positive and negative results, individual coaching and thoughtful mentoring. Keep…
Ohio is now viewed as one of the leading states in the asset protection arena, thanks to the passage of the Ohio Legacy Trust Act, says Marcia Kendle, Senior Vice President and Chief Fiduciary Officer at FirstMerit Bank. The law, which went into effect March 27, 2013, as part of Ohio House Bill 479, allows for the creation of self-settled irrevocable trusts – also known as domestic asset protection trusts (DAPTs). These trusts permit the transferor of assets to also be the beneficiary of the trust. An Ohio DAPT provides a high level of protection from creditors dependent upon certain…
When trying to learn about an individual, many companies turn to online background checks. However, this could be a mistake as much of the available information may not be fully verified, which is why many businesses turn to a licensed investigator to help provide a more complete and accurate picture. Smart Business spoke with Theresa Mack, CPA, CFF, CAMS, CFCI, PI, a senior manager at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC, about working with a licensed investigator to help your business uncover the information you need.Why hire a licensed investigator? Most online or database-driven background checks are actually ‘record checks.’ In other…
Problems with the launch of the federal health insurance exchange website are removing it as an option for many employers and employees this year. “How can I advise someone whether to enroll in an employer plan or buy from the exchange when I can’t get on the exchange to make a comparison before the employer’s open enrollment period is up? For the 33 states with a federal hand in operating the exchange, it’s nearly impossible to get any data,” says Paul J. Baranowski, CLU, ChFC, team leader in Account Management at Benefitdecisions, Inc. Smart Business spoke with Baranowski about strategies…
Although some aspects of the Affordable Care Act remain uncertain, the act overall is driving the health care market to figure out ways to control costs and allow employers to continue to offer health plans, says Mark Haegele, director of sales and account management at HealthLink. As a result, managed care companies are increasingly utilizing three tools —reference-based pricing, Domestic Centers of Excellence and narrow networks. “Some of these concepts are still new, so an employer might tackle one thing at a time,” Haegele says. “Maybe you start with narrow networks, and then move into reference-based pricing or Domestic Centers…
When all the dollars and cents were added up for 2012, cleverbridge’s revenue topped $363.5 million — and co-founder Craig Vodnik realized the company had come a long way from when he answered phone calls in his Chicago basement. “I was also out prospecting for new leads and new business, so I would do that when I wasn’t answering the phone,” Vodnik says. “We didn’t have venture capital or angel investors, so we bootstrapped it ourselves.” Cleverbridge is a full-service e-commerce provider for companies that sell software and software as a service. “Cleverbridge was launched because my partners and I…
On Mondays, many high school, college and professional football teams get together in a dark room and do the same thing: they break down the game film. It’s often not a pleasant session after a team has lost. Their performance is under a microscope. Many plays are paused, replayed again and again in slow motion. Actions are scrutinized at a hyper-level. Because comments like, “I dropped that pass coach, but I want you to know my intention was to catch the ball” or “I did miss three easy tackles, but my plan was to not miss any” would not be…
The bulk of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2014. Even though large employers don’t necessarily need to go through the chess game of whether or not to offer insurance — pay or play — a number of new initiatives still come online. The community rating rules, which limit how insurance carriers can classify small employer groups, the individual mandate and $8 billion insurer tax all will shape health care and premiums in the coming year. “You’ve got to keep your eyes open, and continue to see what’s going on,” says Mark Haegele, director of…
The greatest impediment to the successful resolution of a commercial dispute is the failure of both clients and attorneys to understand and think adequately about the extent, nature and amount of damages at issue in the dispute, says Eric N. Macey, partner at Novack and Macey LLP. “While clients will invest huge amounts of time and money to focus on the merits of a case to prove they are ‘right,’ they either ignore or fail to give the same consideration to damages issues,” he says. Yet, in order to resolve the dispute, management needs to properly evaluate damages so they…
Michael Romano thought about his company, his employees and his customers and couldn’t escape the idea that something needed to change. Unfortunately for Romano, it wasn’t clear what that change would look like. “In my mind, I knew what the issue was, but I struggled with what to do about it,” Romano says. “I was focused more on short-term solutions because that’s generally what people try to do.” Associated Material Handling Industries Inc. was launched in 1960 to provide customers with material handling equipment and services that would improve their warehouse operations. It became a successful business and steadily grew…
Effective leadership development is often derailed by two significant forces that conflict and make it difficult to achieve the desired outcome. The first is the power of the group process. Through group action-learning projects and enhanced work within teams, group participants can leverage the diversity of skills and experiences and often achieve innovative and creative outcomes. Participants who share information openly about themselves, such as their strengths and development needs, gain useful feedback and in the process elevate their skills to new levels. Yet, there are limitations on what individuals may choose to share in a group, and organizational beliefs…
Approximately 60 percent of the U.S. commercial population is self-funded today, and as health care premiums continue to rise under fully insured plans, self-funding looks to become even more attractive. However, many employers don’t realize how much self-funded health insurance has evolved with strategies and plans designed to help control costs. “Self-funding does not look the same as it did just a few years ago,” says Mark Haegele, director of sales and account management at HealthLink. Smart Business spoke with Haegele about how self-funding fits into health care today. What’s driving the increase in self-funded health insurance? Health insurance premiums…
On Aug. 13 the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) exposed proposed changes to the standard auditor’s report that have the potential to impact the relationship between auditors and their clients. “Practitioners, issuer entities and attorneys dealing with accountants’ liability matters should all understand the implications of the proposed changes,” says Barry Jay Epstein, Ph.D., CPA, CFF, a principal at Cendrowski Corporate Advisors LLC. Smart Business spoke with Epstein about the changes and their impact.What are the main proposed changes to the auditor’s report? The proposal most likely to generate controversy is that which requires identification of what the auditors…
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